Amendments Nos. 18 to 21, inclusive, have already been discussed with amendment No. 11.
Dublin Docklands Development Authority Bill, 1996: Committee Stage (Resumed).
Amendment No. 22 is out of order as it involves a potential charge on the Revenue.
Amendment No. 24 is an alternative to amendment No. 23 and both may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 23:
In page 15, line 37, to delete subsection (3) and substitute the following:
"(3) The ordinary directors, who in the opinion of the Minister, have wide experience in relation to employment, environmental or transport matters, local government, community development administration or urban economics including a representative from the Dublin Inner City Partnership and two community directors one each from the north and south community networks shall be appointed by the Minister.".
The intention behind this amendment is to broaden and focus the involvement of local communities, which is important particularly in this area of considerable disadvantage where the development is contemplated. It would be provocative to create employment for the middle classes or for outside people without engaging as actively as possible those elements of the existing community in this depressed area.
These amendments, literate and wonderful as they are, did not spring unaided from my pen or my brain but were suggested to me by these communities. For that reason it is incumbent on us to listen to them. I know from conversations with the Minister, which were not confidential, that he is sensitive to this type of requirement and feels that we are moving in the right direction. It would be useful if some of these amendments were accepted so the communities which are most deprived would feel involved in the maximum possible way.
If a number of ministerial appointments must be made, will the Minister appoint his own nominees or those nominated by community groups?
The Minister is attempting to set up a two tier system — a council, where there is wide participation by the community in framing policy and drawing up a plan, and a working executive. It is dangerous to suggest that the executive as well as the council must be representational. The representational aspect, which is highly desirable and strongly supported in the Bill, is catered for in the council. The executive, which will be made up of experts — they may not come from Dublin — who will give us the required expertise to run the day to day business of the board, should not be a representational body given the fact that we have catered for this fully in the council. We are proposing a strong representational council and an expert executive.
I accept the points made by Senator Norris and Senator Daly about the local community. However, Senator Norris need not emphasise its disadvantage. I have dealt with some of the groups and they are composed of dynamic, forward thinking people who will not be pushed aside. The first report of the task force on the docklands was specific about the primary involvement of the communities. The progress report also recognises the central position the communities will have in this development. We lauded the development of Temple Bar but we also learned from that development that more thought should have been given to the indigenous population. That mistake will be avoided in this development. Everybody I have met is conscious of the fact that without the co-operation of the community it cannot be successful.
People in the area believe the council will be broad and general and will deal with the overall concept of the development but they fear it will only meet about twice or three times a year. The driving force or power house for the project will be the executive. Local people believe that unless they have representation on that inner sanctum of the enterprise, as it were, they will be disadvantaged.
I accept the Minister of State's assurance that they will have direct representation on the council and an input into the overall concept of how the project will evolve. However, power will lie with the driving force within the system. That is how the enterprise will operate and the local people want to be there. Can the Minister accept even one nomination from the local committees to the executive? I believe he can. It would be a sensible and wise course of action. It would indicate to the community that it will not just be part of an outside tier that has some say but a mechanism to give it a meaningful role in the development. I agree with the local community's view, not the Minister's.
I accept Senator Magner's comments. His heart is in the right place in this regard, as befits a good Labour Party representative. However, the suggestion was forcibly made to me, by the people about whom Senator Magner spoke so eloquently, that there is no real partnership with the local communities and that the council is cosmetic. When I hear that these people can be represented on the council but they are not wanted on the executive, alarm bells begin to ring. The executive is where day to day decisions are made and it is vital that those decisions are taken with the consent and participation of people in the local community.
I remember the middle class squawks when Deputy Gregory was elected in my constituency and held the balance of power.
We all remember it.
Some of my best friends are middle class and they considered it outrageous. "Who does he think he is making deals?" they wondered. However, politics is about making deals. What they really objected to was somebody from the inner city community being involved in the executive function.
The executive board should be of a demonstrably high quality and should have the correct sectoral balance for the proper monitoring of the development process as required for sustainable development and combating long-term unemployment. The executive board would benefit from the expertise of professionals in their fields who are familiar with an executive role. The legislation is open ended with a development period of over 15 years envisaged for the docklands area. We cannot assume we will have Ministers of the same high integrity we currently enjoy for this entire period. The legislation should not permit the appointment of political appointees who might have gained favour through party donations rather than achievements in the fields of endeavour. The recent Dunnes Stores revelations are pertinent in this regard.
If we really believe in involving the local community, excluding it from the executive is an odd way to go about it. I appeal to the Minister of State to think again about the amendment. I will not press it at this time in order to give him an opportunity for, in the words of a much loved political colleague who is no longer with us, "mature reflection" before Report Stage.
The council is far from cosmetic. It will have real authority and will, in a sense, be the authority. Any representational council would require an executive. If two members of the executive should be representational, why should the seven members not be representational? Why not have a 25 member executive? If the executive is to be representational, it will require 25 members to meet the demands for representation.
We should include as many people as possible on the council in a representational role. We should also give the council as much power and authority as possible and we are doing that. However, we also need an expert executive. Local people are not excluded from the executive; it simply is not a representational body. They have every right to be included in the executive and the Minister could appoint seven local people to it. However, if the local community should be allowed to elect members of the executive, so should the other interests. That will be the immediate demand.
It might be a demand but it is not in my amendment. The Minister of State is a skillful debater but let us remove ourselves from this phantasmagoria. We are dealing with the amendments and not with demands from all and sundry. I am specific that the people who should be included in the executive should be from the local community and from groups who work there.
In a way I am encouraged by the Minister of State's response. If, as he says, the council is the superior body and has greater control and if these people are good enough for that more powerful, influential and significant body, they are almost too good to be on the executive. They should be on it.
It would be remiss of me not to consider the consequences of the Senator's amendment, even if it refers to a specific area. If the people to whom the Senator refers show their mettle on the council and if they currently show their mettle in the ways described by Senator Magner, I do not doubt that a Minister worth his salt will recruit such expertise from the local committee onto the executive body and that they will do a good job for their area on the executive.
If I press amendment No. 24, will it materially affect amendment No. 23?
No. Does the Minister of State wish to add to his earlier reply?
I am not satisfied with the Minister of State's position but I understand it.
I move amendment No. 24:
In page 15, between lines 44 and 45, to insert the following paragraph:
"(c) at least two ordinary directors shall be representatives of local community groups, networks and organisations.".
What will be the nature of the relationship between the executive and the council in view of the fact that there would be differences in terms of appointments and membership? Will the executive be able to relate to the council on all occasions?
I do not know how it could be otherwise. If the executive and the council were to be divorced in any sense they would not work. There must be a continuing relationship, as laid out in the Bill, between the council and the executive and their functions are clearly defined.
The fact that the chairperson chairs both the executive and the council is very important because it means that he or she can run but they cannot hide. If a situation arose where the executive attempted to ignore or give due weight to the clear aspirations and express wishes of the council, the chairperson has no place to go. It is an important development that he or she chairs both bodies. This will hopefully avoid the problem to which Senator Daly referred.
I take Senator Magner's point that the chairperson of the executive also chairs the council. In any normal organisation the shareholders or members elect a large council which then elects an executive. In this case, however, the council will be elected and the Minister will appoint the six person executive. That seems to run against the norm, but perhaps I do not understand it correctly. With the exception of the chairman, who is elected, the other members of the executive will be appointed.
The practice is similar to that exercised in local authorities where the members are elected. However, such elected representatives do not have as much authority as will the members of the council. Members of a county council are elected and their executive is appointed by the Local Appointments Commission — effectively by the Government — without the direct involvement of the Minister. Essentially, we are discussing a new form of local authority for the Dublin docklands the main council of which will be representational and will have many powers that elected local authorities do not. The executive will be appointed by either the Minister or the Local Appointments Commission.
The Minister of State provided a good example which prompts me to inquire why the Government did not adopt the approach of having the Appointments Commission appoint the executive? Why was the method outlined in the Bill chosen?
The Minister of State indicated that this body will be treated as though it was a local authority. That is my basic problem with the attitude towards the Bill. I believe more vibrancy, life, enterprise and innovative effort is required. As I stated on Second Stage, if it is treated like a local authority it will not have the ability to create the activity required of it in the marketplace. I am concerned that instead of the authority being like an active business, which must compete and attract outside investment, it is almost being made to resemble a local authority. Will the Minister of State reconsider whether that is the correct way to deal with an organisation which should operate as a business?
It would be very convenient if we could dispense with democracy and merely do business, because there would be no problems regarding representation, elections, local communities, etc. However, we are bound to take a different route and encourage representation and consultation. For these reasons the council is being established and will have direct powers to make the detailed plan for its area. This supersedes the local authority which, it must not be forgotten, also occupies the area. The council will be elected by the people and will have residual powers. The local authority in question and other agencies left the area derelict and the Bill represents an attempt to take positive action.
Having witnessed the examples of the Custom House Docks and Temple Bar, I have no doubt that millions of pounds will be invested in the development of this area as a result of the legislation. If the area in question was situated anywhere else in the country, Senators representing that area would be attempting to rush the Bill through the House. However, Dublin is unique. With notable exceptions, Dublin Senators do not seem to be aware of the parochial interest in this matter.
We are not Dublin Senators, we are national figures.
This is a fantastic proposal to take quick action and cut through the red tape which prevented the development of the docklands area and permitted it to become derelict. Perhaps there are flaws in this new structure and there may be teething problems, but the council and executive will be capable of dealing with such matters.
Senator Norris was too modest when describing himself, his distinguished colleague, Senator Quinn, and Senator Daly, a former Minister, as national figures.
I have revised it to "international" because our electorate includes America, New Zealand, Israel, Turkey, etc.
It is a very distinguished audience, albeit small. Let us call a spade a spade. The reality is that the new Docklands Authority subsumes the Custom House Docks Development Agency which currently exercises a high degree of expertise and has been outstandingly successful. As far as I am concerned, there are too many companies situated outside the International Financial Services Centre whose licences stipulate that they should be within its confines. To a large extent, it is questionable whether they should still be trading under the flag of the IFSC when they are not situated there. Part of the reason they are not within its confines is that there is no space available.
The current executive of the Custom House Docks Development Agency will be subsumed by this new body and there is ongoing work which must be carried out. Senator Daly stated that the executive will be obliged to be the driving force, which is a fact of life. The Minister of State generously stated that the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Howlin, may appoint seven members of the local community, but that is not how it will happen. An executive will have to be put in place, the members of which share the vision referred to on Second Stage.
This is the largest development in Dublin for generations and it will change the face of the city. One cannot play around with this executive; people with great expertise will have to be included. It cannot exclude the dynamism of various people working against the odds in Ringsend, because they live in the area and share a vision. We must find a balance and I have no hang ups in regard to the involvement of various people on the executive. However, because it will be the engine to drive this process, we will have to get it right. We cannot pander to everybody — for example, Dublin Port and Docks and CIE, which are major players. There are as many major players as one could create spaces for on this executive. Choices will have to be made and they should be made on the basis, as Senator Quinn so often preached to me, of people able to get the job done.
I would agree with the Minister of State and Senator Magner in that regard were it not for the last paragraph of section 17, which will put a cumbersome mechanism in place to remove an individual from the executive, a provision whereby if the Minister wishes, he can remove a person from the executive because of poor health or misbehaviour or in the opinion of the Minister is not capable of carrying out the job.
The usual stuff.
Why is it necessary to have the removal of a member of the executive laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas if we are to have a dynamic approach to executive?
Openness and transparency.
It does not state whether one has to await the result of the decision of the House. Can we vote on whether he or she is removed? It is a cumbersome mechanism for a high powered executive if that is the case.
A vote is not required. It is simply a matter of openness, transparency and accountability. It is a standard provision in all legislation concerning State bodies for the removal of members. There is nothing new about it.
Under the new procedures for the Civil Service, an arrangement will be put in place for the removal of people from positions without going through the old system where it had to be brought before the Cabinet etc.
It is called getting the secretary to do the dirty work.
I am on the one hand being convinced by the Minister of State that we do not need local representation while at the same time if the Minister wishes to remove a member, it has to be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. If that is so, the normal procedure is that within 21 days a motion can be tabled not to proceed with such a removal, or is this different?
There is nothing new in this as it is standard procedure. If a member is sacked from a board, the information is laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas and any member can table a motion during the 21 day period seeking to reverse the decision, or we can table a motion without it being laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas seeking to reverse any such decision the Minister might make. The Dáil could so instruct the Government.
If the Minister was inclined to remove two or more members from the executive because of this procedure, there could be two or three vacancies on it for half of the year.
I do not foresee that difficulty arising. We are dealing with a member of board doing something wrong——
There is more than that in it.
——the Minister having power to remove that person and what the Minister must do to carry out that procedure. I do not foresee a situation where there will be vacancies for long periods of time arising from that.
Amendments Nos. 25 and 26 are out of order as it involves a potential charge upon the Revenue.
I move amendment No. 27:
In page 16, subsection (1) (b) (i), line 32, after "to" to insert "monitor, amend and".
The process should be reviewed and improved as it comes into existence.
Section 20(1)(a) of the Bill provides for the review and update of the master plan at least once every five years and it also requires that its implementation be monitored. The case the Senator makes is already covered.
Is once every five years rather a long time?
This refers to the review of the plan but there is also a requirement for it to be monitored.
Five years is too long.
Amendment No. 28 is out of order as it involves a potential charge upon the Revenue.
We will have to do something about the powers of the Seanad.
I move amendment No. 29:
In page 17, subsection (1) (b), between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following:
"(xii) to provide encouragement and support for bottom up local development activity, and a framework within which the attainment of the social and economic objectives of the many community and local development organisations in the area can be progressed.".
Had I framed this amendment, I would not have used this vulgar Americanism of turning a perfectly good noun into the past participle of a verb. However, I strongly support its substance and it does not constrict or direct the Minister too much. There should not be a great conflict of interest as a result. We agree this is what we need.
Senator Magner referred to the exciting development in Temple Bar. However, there are problems there and they spring from the fact that the Temple Bar authority poured money in from the top and failed to develop the existing organically developing small community resources. That will be a problem in Temple Bar. It will succeed ultimately, but that is a flaw. However, by including this paragraph, we would learn from the occasional mistakes in Temple Bar and programming them out of this excellent scheme, as Senator Magner said.
While I have great sympathy with the description of the flaw in the Temple Bar scheme, the Senator will acknowledge that Temple Bar has been a great success.
It is an exciting place inhabited by many young people doing their business.
They do their business on the Senator's street.
Urination once again.
In setting out the functions of the authority in this section, the Minister took careful cognisance of the content of the report of the Dublin Docklands Area Task Force. The words which this amendment seeks to include in the Bill are taken from that report. However, in drafting legislation, a degree of precision is required in order to ensure its terms are as clear as possible. Therefore, while the precise wording of the report may not appear in the Bill, provision is made in regard to training, education, employment and the development of residential communities, all of which are key development issues. On that basis, the Senator's case is met in the Bill, although not in the exact words he used but in what my officials describe as more precise legislative language.
Amendment, by leave, withdraw.
Amendments Nos. 30 and 31 are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.
I move amendment No. 30:
In page 18, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following new subsection:
"(6) The Authority shall establish from within the Council and the Executive on Education and Training Forum to examine and make recommendation on the education, training and other requirements necessary to ensure the maximum participation of persons from the local communities in the regeneration and development of the New Docks.".
This important section, which sets out the functions of the authority, should be expanded to place greater emphasis on the needs of local communities and to ensure their participation in the long-term development of the project. Amendment No. 30 seeks to establish a forum from within the executive and council to consider mechanisms by which the local community may become involved in the development, to discuss education and training and to identify possible job opportunities and possible shortcomings in the existing education structures in the area. We must avoid the criticisms made in relation to other developments where there has been an absence of opportunities for long-term and sustainable employment for those living in the area.
Last week I tabled amendments, which were voted down, to include representation from the Dublin City Vocational Education Committee. The views of the education authorities in the area are important. Members from Dublin will know of the proposal for a new community college in the Seán McDermott Street area, which is not included in this development. Although I sought to include it, my amendment was disallowed.
The forum would ensure that discussions would take place, parallel to and without interfering with, work taking place to identify for the council and the executive shortcomings in the education field. By doing so, young people in the community could play a meaningful role and get a job in this development. Then the same criticisms we received over the Custom House Docks development, which brought yuppies into the area to the detriment of those who lived there, could be not be levelled against us.
Amendment No. 31 relates to how this concept will be monitored. A tracking committee should be put in place to see how this develops and to report back to the council on where it is going wrong. I am sure many mistakes will be made in this development, as they were elsewhere, and those who believe otherwise are naive. A committee should monitor progress in terms of the participation of the less well off sections of the community. Figures from the task force and elsewhere have shown a huge decline in the local population which has perhaps been caused by the shift in the pattern of trade and commerce that took place in the past. If we are to have a meaningful impact on the problems in this area, such as unemployment, deprivation and the problems associated with poverty, we must put in place a committee to track progress, to give guidance and keep in touch with the local communities and to ensure the concept does not move in a way which is detrimental to people who live there.
I support everything Senator Daly said. It is instructive to look at the priority given to the area about which the Senator spoke, in terms of education and training, by the task force for the docklands and in the progress report from Riverrun. It carried out an educational audit of the area and outlined the disadvantages about which Senator Norris spoke. There is a determination that the fears Senator Daly expressed will be addressed from flag fall. We must marry the population so far as we can to the jobs.
The master plan for the docklands, which will identify the type of industries we are likely to attract, will enable the executive and the council to set in train the necessary educational programmes. Let us not fool ourselves — many of these jobs will be high-tech and will be like those created in the International Financial Services Centre. However, there will be other jobs because if, as we envisage, the area is regenerated, shops, restaurants and bars will be opened. It will not be copy of Temple Bar but a new place of leisure, business and industry which will create the types of jobs that do not require a university degree which, as Lemass once said, would make the place very boring.
The points the Senator raised have been more than adequately covered in the Bill. There is a specific responsibility on the authority to do the things the Senator suggested. It is committed to pay for Riverrun which will form an important part of the master plan. I support everything the Senator said and am enthusiastic in this regard.
The purpose of section 18 is to set out the functions of the authority. It is not intended to set out requirements in relation to the structures which the authority should establish in order to perform those functions. The aim in passing specific legislation to establish a special State body to undertake a major regeneration project such as this is to have a single agency responsible for the task and to allow it as much flexibility as possible in deciding how it should carry out its work. The authority will require particular flexibility in how it organises its staff for the purposes of performing its functions — a flexibility which is given to every semi-State body established by statute.
I appreciate and, indeed, support the underlying sentiments of Senator Daly's amendments in so far as they seek to ensure the key issues such as employment, training and education are addressed. In response to suggestions from his own party in the Dáil, amendments were introduced to the Bill to ensure the authority's functions cover these areas. The authority will have a duty to perform these functions and will be fully accountable for its performance in this regard. On that basis, I ask the Senator to withdraw the amendment.
When in Government with Senator Daly's party, I was responsible for urban renewal and housing and we had a problem in this particular area. Some 99 per cent of the Sheriff Street flats had been vacated but it would have cost a huge amount of money to knock them down; we had a problem finding the money to do so. I said we should not knock them down, but sell them. My officials were incredulous at the idea of selling the Sheriff Street flats, which had been a problem housing area for a long time. We put them on the market and got £4 million.
I hope the Minister of State got a percentage for introducing the deal.
I did. I negotiated with the then Minister for Finance, now the Leader of the Opposition in the other House, to give £1 million for the Sheriff Street youth club and a fantastic club is now being built. We made the money from selling something useless.
New people are being brought in to live in the area. We are responsible for the best thing that has been done to the centre of Dublin for the past 75 years, that is the building of social housing to the exclusion of private housing. The private housing there was turned into social housing or tenements. That was the worst possible solution. People are again living in private housing in Dublin city centre and they live happily cheek by jowl with social housing. That social mix is a great success and I foresee more of the same as a result of this proposal. On foot of the amendments tabled in the Dáil, which were along the lines the Senator argued, I ask him to withdraw the amendment.
Section 18 is a long and fundamental section in the Bill yet it does not mention education, training or monitoring. The section gives the authority grave responsibilities but there is no provision for monitored activities or for a function to decide on matters connected with education, training opportunities. I have not seen training mentioned anywhere in the functions set out in section 18.
It is mentioned on page 17, section 18(1)(b)(x). It was a proposal from the Senator's party so he has full credit for the change.
The subparagraph states, "to promote, in particular as regards persons residing in that Area, the provision of education and training opportunities, and the development of a wide range of employment in that Area".
The legislation would be better if my two more specific subsections were added. It is important that some provision be made for monitoring the overall operation.
It would be unbelievable, given the new benchmarking of all systems now proposed, that a new State body would be established to immediately put in place for itself a monitoring and benchmarking system. The authority's functions are described in the Bill. If what the Senator proposes is attempted, the detailed structures would then have to be described as well, which would be extremely difficult.
I move amendment No. 31:
In page 18, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following new subsection:
"(7) The Authority shall establish a monitoring unit to track progress on
(a) reduction of unemployment and poverty in the area,
(b) The assessment of projects to ensure that the maximum number of people from local communities secure employment,
(c) the expansion of participation of the disadvantaged in the area in the development programme by increasing their access to opportunities, involvement in small business, availability of credit, and
(d) the general participation of local communities in the overall regeneration of the area.".
I wish to comment about the principle under which a number of amendments were ruled out of order, especially amendments Nos. 25 and 28, the intention of which was to extend the operational area of the authority to include adjacent communities. The reason given for ruling the amendments out of order was that they created a charge on the Exchequer and one must accept that.
However, this underlines the stupidity of that clause which clips the wings of Seanad Éireann. We know well that some of these are important matters which properly concern this House and, although the amendments are ruled out of order, we frequently manage to persuade the Government to include them as its amendments. In any review of the operation of Seanad Éireann we should re-examine this childish clipping of an essential part of the adult privilege of the political process. If this measure is taken to its extreme, amendment No. 31 could have been ruled out of order as it makes requirements which will inevitably and incidentally create a charge on the Exchequer. An argument could be made that everything creates a charge on the Exchequer. The printing of the amendment creates a charge on the Exchequer.
Or Senator Daly's Bill.
He is a very profligate person. I do not wish to be tendentious but this is an absurd restriction of the powers of adult political persons and the sooner it goes the better.
Having made the arguments for these amendments, I ask the Minister to examine, between now and Report Stage, the possibility of the Government sponsoring these amendments. I take on board what the Minister and Senator Magner, who clearly knows and has extensive knowledge of this area, said. I am not surprised and am very pleased to hear him speak so eloquently about it because I live in the area. I agree with what the Minister said about tenement buildings and that some local authorities deliberately tried to corral the working class into a one-class system in such areas. Those authorities squealed like stuck pigs when people like me started moving in, not because they objected to us living in what they saw as a slum but because they knew we would bring lobbying skills, etc., into the area and that we would be troublemakers. We were and we won. With the co-operation of people in the Oireachtas, we brought people back to live in private housing in the inner city and we have created a healthy mixed area where we co-operate with our new neighbours.
Although I agree with Senator Quinn that we need the dynamism and energy which this enterprise area would bring, it would be a pity if the boundaries were drawn too narrowly resulting in marginalised areas being excluded. This would cause provocation because energy would be expended in a concentrated area and outlying areas would be excluded. Later amendments also address the issue of extending the area by naming the streets to be included and these might also be ruled out of order. They were carefully drawn up by people who live in the area who saw it as a benefit for the entire area and not as the creation of a new area of privilege which excludes others. I ask the Minister to look carefully at these amendments so that, if possible, the Government can introduce them. It would make a radical transformation to the entire area and not just this concentrated area of privilege which we hope will be shared generally.
I support Senator Norris in the strong case he has made for the inclusion of areas adjacent to the area we are discussing. I have a small map of the extended area which I will give to the Minister of State to consider before the Final Stages. All that is being sought is the inclusion of an extra block which would comprise of Seán McDermott Street, Portland Row, Summerhill and Gardiner Street which most people would view as being very deprived, run down and neglected. This would strengthen the prospects of resolving some the problems within the original boundary. I presume that, even if this change is not made now, another Minister will return to the House at some later stage seeking amendments to the legislation. I have tabled an amendment to the Schedule defining the area, but it will be disallowed because it would mean charges on the Exchequer. However, I hope the Minister will take into account what was said by Senator Norris. It will be found that drawing a line through the most deprived areas of the city and leaving one part out will not be feasible. This is apparent when one looks at a map of the areas.
I agree. The drawing of the docklands development area was not an exact science. To an extent it was a matter of throwing one's cloak over a large area of Dublin port. The site of the Custom House Docks Authority has been extended to include other developments as land became available. What Senator Daly outlined will happen because it is a 15 year programme in five year tranches. The current boundary will be extended as the process rolls on and it does not matter who is in Government. I see no problem with that.
There is a problem because the areas outside the initial boundary may be left behind.
A line has to be drawn somewhere.
Yes, but is it acceptable to draw a line through the middle of the most deprived area of the city and leave it behind? A Minister will have to return to seek an amendment to the legislation. Do it now.
At the risk of being disrespectful to the Department of Finance, they have nobbled this House and the Lower House with the regulation that amendments may not be tabled which incur a cost to the Exchequer unless they come from the Government. I found this a most inhibiting regulation as an ordinary Member and I see no good reason for it. The wisdom of the Members of both Houses is unnecessarily restricted by this regulation. I hope the Department of Finance takes cognisance of this criticism.
So do I.
Between now and Report Stage all discussion and amendments on Committee Stage will be considered. I am not in a position to promise what the outcome of that consideration will be.
The Minister has power under the Bill to extend the boundary with the consent of the Minister for Finance. Therefore, an amendment will not be required. It is necessary to start somewhere and work from there, so this could be seen as a pilot scheme.
I move amendment No. 32:
In page 18, subsection (1) (a) (i), line 11, to delete "five" and substitute "three".
The purpose of this amendment is to make the council view the master plan as a flexible document and not as a rigid document that can only be changed infrequently and with difficulty. By proposing revisions of the plan every three rather than five years, consideration of the plan is permanently on the agenda of the council, as it should be. We are living in cloud cuckoo land by thinking that a master plan can be drawn up now and that it will be right in 15 years' time having been glanced at it once or twice in between. Revisions every five years are too infrequent. We need revisions more often so that everybody concerned will see the master plan as something evolving on a continuous basis as the area itself develops.
The Custom House development master plan was designed ten years ago. I remember going to the opening launch and it was a great plan. However, the development does not bear much resemblance to what they planned in 1988. There is a need to force the council into a constant, permanent re-examination of what it plans. Otherwise, all sorts of opportunities will be lost through the rigidity of saying "It is not part of the plan". There is a world of difference between five years and three years. Providing for five years makes it just one item on the agenda every fifth year. However, providing for revision every three years means continuous consideration.
I urge the Minister to consider reducing the examination from five years to three years.
At present I am not an advocate of the permanent cultural revolution, but that concept could be applied to what Senator Quinn is saying. I draw his attention to the fact that five years is a maximum period. I expect that the plan will be on a permanent agenda. It is not necessary for the plan to be on the agenda of the council every time it meets. It can be reviewed after one, two or three years. The maximum period allowed is five years. This ensures both a flexibility and a cut-off point.
The Custom House Docks is a good example of how the original concept does not reflect what is there now. I do not like the present design, but that is a personal view. It is very ugly, particularly alongside the beautiful Custom House.
It is not necessary to put the Bill back for a month to change the provision for review from five to three years when the council can review it anytime they like.
I understand that the council do not have to wait for five years to review the plan. My concern is that the Bill is not treating the issue with the necessary dynamism. The plan is going to evolve and move and it needs to be dynamic. It is different from a local authority and I am trying to instil that sense of dynamism. I fear that somebody will decide to put revision to one side until the five year period is up. Others will say that the plan cannot be touched for five years because that is what the legislation says. I want to strengthen the other voices which will call for continuous challenge and revision. I urge the Minister to consider the matter between now and Report Stage.
I am hopeful and confident that the new dynamic council and executive will insist on what Senator Quinn wishes to see, that the plan will undergo permanent review.
The Minister used the phrase "to put the Bill back a month". Was he referring to the fact that an amendment would cause this delay? There is already at least one Government amendment.
That is what I was referring to.
That delay is going to be there anyway.
Amendment No. 34 is an alternative to amendment No. 33. The amendments can be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.
I move amendment No. 33:
In page 19, subsection (1), line 21 after "functions" to insert "subject to meeting at least four times each year".
I am not sure if the Minister will produce a parallel argument to the one he has just made. I thought he might, but I remind him that it will not delay the Bill by a month. I made the point in order to case his passage so that if he is persuaded he may be able to accept my amendment.
It seems extraordinary to me that a body as significant as the authority would not meet at least once a quarter. If it is going to be responsible and dynamic it must meet not less than four times a year. I want to ensure that this council is a weighty body and that it is taken seriously. The Minister has rejected the notion of appointing members of the local community to the executive — I use the word "executive" inadvertently.
They are there in a representational manner.
Yes, but the way in which my amendments are worded would have put them on as a statutory requirement. The Minister made the point that they are on the council.
If it is going to be so important, I cannot imagine a body that is going to have this kind of interaction and responsibility meeting less than once a quarter. One of the reasons we should consider this very seriously is that in the way the council is constituted, there will be a large number of statutory members who by virtue of their engagement in the council will have many demands placed on their time. Even I, as the lowest form of political life known in this country, have difficulties with my diary. There are times when I would willingly skive off and not attend meetings. I feel that in order to be taken seriously, the council must at least have a quarterly meeting.
I have nothing to add to what Senator Norris has said.
I want to add a voice of support to Senator Norris. There is a danger that a council may find itself in a position of allowing meetings to take place less than four times a year. I think that would be disastrous. It can do no harm, if only to mark their cards, to say that the council is expected to meet at least four times a year. I imagine they will meet much more frequently than that and I am sure the Minister will agree. The amendment is a very mild and modest one. I am a little concerned about the Minister's reply earlier when he said that an amendment would delay the process for a month. That is like waving a red flag and saying he is not in a position to take any amendments whatsoever. I think the Minister should show his mettle and agree to this small amendment, which does not make very much difference because the Minister says the council will meet more than four times a year anyway. His acceptance would show that the Seanad is able to get an amendment through. Accepting this amendment would do no more than mark the cards of the council members.
I live at meetings and have done for a long time. I do not know who I am quoting when I say that words build bridges into unexplored regions. Business is done at meetings and if they do not take place the business cannot be done. While I would be worried about imposing numbers from a subsidiarity point of view — the body should have the right to decide itself when and how often to meet — I think in the initial stages it would be right and proper to have this minimum number of meetings. I accept the amendment.
The initial lobby sought no less than ten meetings a year so I think four was a very good compromise and I thank the Minister for accepting my amendment.
Amendments Nos. 35 and 36 are out of order as they involve a potential charge upon the Revenue.
I move amendment No 37:
In page 21, subsection (2) (b), between lines 35 and 36, to insert the following subparagraph:
"(xii) provide for the development and monitoring of social, economic and environmental indicators in the area in consultation with the local communities.".
This is an attempt to focus in on the specific requirements of the area in order to benefit them. It simply means adding another paragraph to provide for the development and monitoring of social, economic and environmental indicators in the area in consultation with the local communities. It is specific about the areas of life and development that would be monitored and it introduces the notion of consultation with local communities. This would clearly be done on an unpaid basis, otherwise it would be ruled out of order on the basis that it would create a charge on the Exchequer.
The purpose of section 24 is to set out the key issues to be addressed in the master plan. Therefore, the section is expressed in broad terms. The master plan is not intended to be the authority's work programme; that would be a matter for the authority itself to determine once it is established having regard to the functions which apply to it. The aims and objectives of the authority will require it to establish a range of social and economic indicators to enable it to monitor its progress towards achieving those objectives. I do not see any need to provide specifically for these in legislation. Formal environmental monitoring in the area will remain a matter for Dublin Corporation and the Environmental Protection Agency, as appropriate, and there is no intention that the authority would become involved in duplicating the work of these bodies. If there was any attempt to move in on the area of responsibility of either I have no doubt that a civil war would break out in the docklands.
I would hate another civil war.
No, you would not.
The Senator is right, I would not. A film might even be made of me, once more using my own house, as was done behind my back in the making of the Michael Collins film when I was in Brazil. The person I left in charge of the house pocketed £500 without telling me; only when I returned to find the hall door a different colour than it had been before I left did I find out what had happened. There is quite a lot to be said for civil war.
You just cannot please some people.
I want to place on the record of the House a further reason for my amendment. It would not be appropriate to name my source but my information came from a gifted young architect with a high reputation in the environmental area. I can see the Minister guessing furiously behind his glasses.
Deputy Ruairí Quinn.
I will not hear a word spoken against Deputy Ruairí Quinn, not after receiving £100,000 for the James Joyce Centre.
You are bought cheap.
I will not be bought cheap in November when the figure goes up to £500,000. The reason the architect to whom I referred gives for the need to insert an amendment such as this is that an integral part of sustainable development in mature urban eco systems are sophisticated and comprehensive monitoring and feedback mechanisms. These must be established at the outset of the development process and funds must be provided for the proper updating and maintenance of such indicators in order to ensure the best quality information for the council and the executive board. That expresses the situation very succinctly and confirms my suspicion that the intention behind this amendment is to spend money. This shows the farcical nature of excluding the Seanad from considering any proposal which costs money. I will harp on this in Bill after Bill until we get it changed.
If the Senator brings to the notice of the House the fact that the amendment will have the effect of a charge on the Exchequer, it will be ruled out of order.
I conveyed the view of someone whose qualifications I was careful to indicate were in the area of the environment and architecture. As we all know, architects are notoriously unreliable when placed in charge of money.
Amendments Nos. 38 and 40 are related and may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 38:
In page 21, between lines 39 and 40, to insert the following paragraph:
"(c) consult with the Heritage Council,".
The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the Heritage Council is involved in any consultation.
Under section 24 (5) of the Bill, Dublin Corporation will be required to consider bringing its development plan into line with the master plan to be prepared under section 24, once the master plan has been adopted by the authority. This requirement makes it essential that the corporation have an input into the master plan preparation process. It is for this reason that section 24 specifically requires the authority to consult with the corporation in the course of preparing the draft of the master plan.
I do not believe it is necessary to include a similar specific requirement in relation to the Heritage Council, as is proposed in amendment No. 38. As with any other organisation, statutory or otherwise, with an interest in the master plan, the Heritage Council could become involved in the process of preparing the master plan under section 24 (3)(c) which requires the authority to make arrangements for consultation with other interested persons and organisations.
Similarly, I do not believe that amendment No. 40 is necessary. The authority, when preparing a planning scheme, will be obliged under section 25 (3) (c) to consult with any statutory body which appears to have an interest in the area covered by the scheme. Given the terms of its definition in section 3, the term "statutory body" would include the Heritage Council. On this basis, perhaps Senator Daly will withdraw his amendment.
Is amendment No. 38 being pressed?
Under what section did the Minister assure me the Heritage Council will be involved in the consultation process?
Under section 25 (3)(c).
Amendments Nos. 39, 46 and 48 are related and may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 39:
In page 22, subsection (4), between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following paragraph:
(b) publish the draft master plan in its entirety on the World Wide Web during all of the period referred to in subsection (a) (ii) of this section,".
This amendment is to provide for the publication of the entire draft master plan on the World Wide Web during all the period referred to in section 24(4) (a)(ii). We are living in an information age. I was on tenterhooks as I did not know whether I would be told that because putting the master plan onto the Internet would involve a cost, the amendment would be ruled out of order. The World Wide Web on the Internet is a highly economical manner of publishing detailed information to a large number of people. If the master plan is on the web, anyone can access it at any time, from libraries, homes and businesses. It is important that those interested in accessing the plan have the opportunity to do so.
This Bill is written as though we were still living in the 19th century, although we are on the brink of the 21st century. The information age offers the Docklands Authority all of the new tools to get its message across and provide better access to the public. We should use these new tools, which is why I proposed this amendment.
The same point applies to all three amendments. Amendment No. 46 proposes:
In page 35, subsection (2), line 13, after "Oireachtas" to insert "as soon as may be, and to be published on the World Wide Web".
We need to ensure the report is published as soon as it goes to the Minister. There have been too many instances where the Minister sits on a report for months or years before it sees the light of day. There is no reason why any Department should do this. The report of a State agency is the agency's report, not that of the sponsoring Department.
When I was chairman of An Post, we promised we would publish our reports early. Yet we found that when handing them to the Minister, we had to urge him to publish them, because the publication is the hands of the Minister. Last November I looked for the annual report of RTÉ for 1995 but I discovered it had not been published. When we questioned the chairman of the authority, he said the board had handed over the report in April.
Some of the Bills published recently have included the requirement for immediate publication. We are not setting a precedent. I cannot see any reason why the Department of Transport, Energy and Communications should hold up publication.
The second point of this amendment is to include World Wide Web and the Internet as an integral part of the statutory publication process. The Internet gives greater access to details in a more economic manner than a printed report, which costs several pounds. Putting this type of information on the web is part of how we can use the information age to enrich the democratic process.
Within less than a decade most information will be published in this manner. We should legislate for that now. I urge the Minister to move into the 21st century by including this provision in Bills. I intend to put similar amendments down in other Bills coming through the House. It is outrageous that the ability to see this information is available to every citizen through libraries, homes and businesses, yet they will have to buy a paper document if we do not ensure the provision proposed in my amendment is expected and anticipated in future. I urge the Minister to accept my amendments.
I do not want to lose the whip but I agree with everything Senator Quinn said. This is a 15 year project which extends into the next millennium. It does not make any sense if we are trying to portray ourselves as modern and this project as futuristic that we will not use tools which are almost passé. I urge the Minister to accept the amendments.
I also agree with Senator Quinn that all legislation should be published on the web. It is a tool of information and in a democracy we should use it.
I support Senator Quinn and Senator Magner. I presume that worldwide interest, investment and tourism is precisely the kind of reaction to the legislation that the Minister is hoping for. I cannot think of a better way to get investment. It is a case of scattering one's seed as widely as possible, which is perhaps an unfortunate simile.
The Senator should be careful.
I am a great believer in making these opportunities as available as possible. I know this from my own experience in trying to promote James Joyce and Bloomsday. We have a website at 35 North Great Georges Street and we sometimes get an account of how many "visits" are paid to the site. It is fascinating. It is often followed by a more detailed inquiry. I presume there would be some degree of interaction by which they could call out information and home in on specific areas. This is the very kind of tool which would lead to investment, interest and an international development of the plan. Senator Quinn has been very far-sighted in tabling this amendment.
Recently a few friends of mine put a page on the Internet about a small lake in the west. I looked at it and three people had visited the site, but when I looked at it again a month later 15,000 people had visited the site. That is an example of the power of giving this information to a very large number of people. The object of the exercise in the first instance will be to attract people from at home and abroad to what is happening so that they will come with their money and invest in this area. I am talking about the requirement for tens and hundreds of millions of pounds of investment. It would be outrageous if we did not take the opportunity to put this information on the most modern, widespread and cheapest system of imparting information. I thank Senator Quinn and the other Senators who have spoken in support of this for bringing forward this novel idea and moving us on from the stage where we put a notice inThe Irish Times, which was fine in its day — I am not decrying The Irish Times in any sense by saying that. This is about getting information to people and the best way of empowering people is to give them information. Information is the real basis of power and this amendment will achieve that so I accept it. I would ask the Senator to allow us to examine the wording as it may need to be corrected technically on Report Stage.
I thank the Minister for his consideration. Is the Minister is asking that I withdraw the amendment in order that the correct wording is tabled on Report Stage?
Amendment No. 41. Amendments Nos. 42 and 43 form an alternative proposal. Therefore, amendments Nos. 41, 42 and 43 may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.
I move amendment No. 41:
In page 24, subsection (7)(a) to delete the subparagraphs (i) and (ii), and substitute the following:
"(i) in an area where a planning scheme has been prepared and has received planning permission under the 1963 Act and subsequent regulations, the carrying out by the Authority of any development in the Area which is consistent with that planning scheme;
(ii) in an area in respect of which a planning scheme has been prepared and received planning permission under the 1996 Act and subsequent regulations, the carrying out of any development in the area by a person other than the Authority which is certified by the Executive Board to be consistent with that planning scheme; provided that a certificate under this paragraph may contain such conditions in relation to the carrying out of the development as the Executive Board considers appropriate.".
This involves replacing two subparagraphs with a slightly different but significant form of words. It involves altering "approved" under this section and inserting "has received planning permission ..."and referring to the Executive Board instead of the authority. The reason for this amendment is that the benefits of a comprehensive local development plan or planning scheme can be achieved under existing legislation. These benefits include a consultation period with the local community to evolve the best overall urban design, mix of uses and linkage mechanisms to ensure sustainable redevelopment of the area and a short design and planning period, with reduced uncertainty and risk to the subsequent developer of the scheme or parts thereof. The scheme can be submitted for planning approval in the usual way, which should take only four to five months with the co-operation of An Bord Pleanála. Working with Dublin Corporation, it should be perfectly possible for subsequent piecemeal development by third parties, conforming with the scheme, to be exempt from a further planning permission application.
It is not appropriate that the Ministers for the Environment and Finance take detailed interest in the preparation of planning schemes of a local development authority which is properly set up and with accountability enshrined in the composition of the members of the council, as outlined in the Bill, and with the planning control system intact. In fact, it is directly contrary to the subsidiarity principle to further erode local government powers, particularly those relating to planning control within the docklands area. The planning scheme powers which the CCDDA currently enjoys is a contentious issue with local communities and is not a suitable model for emulation. That is not quite like calling a spade a spade and a little more like calling it an agricultural implement for the trituration of the soil.
I cannot accept this amendment as it would have the effect of setting at nought the whole thrust of the scheme. With due respect to subsidiarity and Dublin Corporation, which could have organised itself as a development corporation for any part of its functional area had it wanted, which it did not, this is taking it away from the corporation deliberately and setting up an alternative system so that something can happen to it. Dublin Corporation had its chance for as long as it has existed and it did not do anything with this area and that is why action is required. If we make it a requirement, as the amendment suggests, that the plan needs planning permission, that doubles or trebles the red tape and could give rise to a situation where the authority would be providing one set of conditions and the planning authority providing a contradictory set of conditions and that would be the permission with which the developer would have to deal. In view of what I have said and the Senator's wish to get this development moving quickly and positively with the minimum of red tape and the maximum efficiency, I ask the Senator to withdraw his amendment.
I am very interested in the Minister's response. I felt an obligation to table this amendment but what he said is clear. Without prejudice on some mature reflection to the remote possibility of reinserting this amendment, I find his argument pretty convincing.
I do not want to go over the same ground again at this time but there is something unwise in having one set of legislative procedures for one area and others for the remainder. I am generally concerned about a situation where there is a legislative procedure governing the whole planning process, which is applicable everywhere except these particular locations which seem to be receiving special treatment, and I am not so sure it is such a good idea. I do not think it is an argument to state that Dublin Corporation did not do certain things in this area. One could say the same about many areas. There were similar arguments with regard to other developments. One could say that Dublin Corporation did not develop Temple Bar and special legislation was introduced; but I am not certain it is advisable in the long-term to have one type of legislation in place for one area and another in place for somewhere else. The section could be redrafted to conform with the planning Acts rather than provide a special concession, which is bad practice. I will not press my amendments now but I feel this is a very dangerous road to follow in the national context.
This is a special situation requiring special treatment. We are saying that the council, which is a new statutory authority, will draw up a plan similar to the county development plan but in greater detail and be exempt from the need for planning permission; but it will require approval from the executive within the terms of that plan. There is that planning process, which is not that dissimilar from the norm, and there is a precedent for it under the urban renewal plan and the plan for the development of the Customs House docks. We are talking about dealing with a special situation and a special difficulty.
I agree that there is a precedent. Not so long ago we had a situation in County Clare which was much to our cost, although maybe not in line with the Minister of State's ideas. For instance, in the Mullaghmore situation the Supreme Court made certain decisions in relation to the powers of the Commissioners of Public Works to require that they should have planning permission. It is not necessary to go into that matter at this time of night, but I have a feeling that this may well be challenged at some stage. The Minister of State may find himself in a situation where, as a result of court proceedings, he will be back here trying to change this. I am not certain that it is wise to go along the lines the Minister of State is taking because there is a precedent for other areas. If you have complaints from other parts of the country about special permission arising because there is a differential between the law that applies to parts of Dublin and that which applies to parts of Limerick and Cork, then we are heading into an area that could lead to some dispute and possible court proceedings later on.
The House will appreciate that we are not in a Mullaghmore type of situation where an authority had at that time the power to do anything it liked without seeking licence from anybody. That is not the case. A body has been set up and people living within the remit of that body's area must get a licence from it to act. They must also have regard to the county development plan of Dublin Corporation, which is the statutory body for the area. They must consult with the corporation also when drawing up their plans. There is a constant approach to the local authority for these two things and the involvement of the actual planning authority and the plan it has drawn up.
I will not prolong the debate now. However, I do not think that in reality it will be regressive to have the planning process apply to these developments in the long-term. I am not certain it will hold back the development. I will not labour the point now.
I understand that amendment No. 41 is being withdrawn by leave of the House.
Will the Minister of State clarify the purpose of subsection 1(c)? I am particularly interested in the part which refers to sea marinas.
Subsection 1(c) must be read in conjunction with section 26. The section requires an environmental impact statement to be prepared where a planning scheme includes development to which environmental impact assessment or EIA applies. The effect of section 25(1)(c) is to limit the range of EIA type developments which can be included in a planning scheme to three classes: industrial estate developments, urban development projects and sea water marinas. Development proposals involving an EIA type development which do not fall into one of these three categories could not be included in a planning scheme and would be subject to the requirement to obtain planning permission from Dublin Corporation in the normal way.
It is because of this that I am a bit confused about the thrust of what is being done in the section. It appears in part that you can have areas where planning permission will not be required, yet in other places it will be. This is a recipe for widespread confusion, but I will not pursue the matter here. It would be wise if the Minister of State got an overall view of what the import of this section will be before this is finalised. We may be making a stick with which to beat ourselves.
I move amendment No. 44:
In page 27, subsection (2), lines 13 and 14, to delete "or may be guaranteed by the Minister for Finance under section 31".
I say with some confidence that the Minister of State will be pleased to know there is no danger of this being ruled out of order by reason of a cost to the Exchequer. I am totally opposed to the State guaranteeing loans if there is any alternative. Here is the perfect case of an alternative. Whenever the authority needs to borrow it will have enough assets against which to do so and that should be enough. The value of not having a State guarantee is that your lenders look closely at the proposal's viability and that is a good thing. If they do not think it is viable then they will not lend, but if there is a State guarantee they could not care less. If it is guaranteed, why bother? Whatever happens they will get the money back. The only brake on such lending is by the Department of Finance.
I would prefer that any brake we put on lending is nearer to the real world of business and commerce than that of the Department of Finance. By removing this very guarantee we ensure that all borrowings by the authority will be made purely on commercial grounds. This is exactly my concern about the Bill. In helping this worthy Bill with its good objectives we are trying to bring it closer to the real world of commerce. It needs to be close to that world if the docklands are going to succeed. That is why I want to bring it closer to that real world by making it face up to normal lenders and bankers as though it was a normal commercial operation. Investment in the docklands will be a good bet. Whether it is through equity investment or lending, the docklands does not need the crutch of a State guarantee, especially since that crutch is not a help but a hindrance. It would be a healthier, more viable organisation, which would be closer to the market place without a State guarantee.
The critical word in the Bill is "may" rather than "must". If a situation arose where the authority had a requirement to borrow some non-commercial money it would then possibly need a State guarantee. In the normal course of events, however, its borrowings would be secured on the basis of its revenue, funds and property. That is the intention. It would borrow on that basis but it is not a mandatory situation. It is a last line "may" so that the Minister in certain circumstances could agree to guarantee such borrowings. It is less than mandatory.
Just to prove to the Minister of State that I am not an unfettered capitalist, as I was accused of being earlier, I will happily withdraw the amendment.
I presume that sections 32 and 33 are basically advances on funding being provided with the consent of the Minister to the council. In section 32 the Minister for Finance, on the advice of the Minister for the Environment, can make some funding available to the council. That issue was raised in connection with the Custom House Docks legislation. On a previous occasion I endeavoured to ascertain what type of funding would be available in the initial stages to get the project motivated and whether or not it would be necessary to repay that. Under the Custom House Docks legislation that body repaid moneys that were advanced to it. Is that correct? Can we get some indication of what type of moneys we are talking about?
I simply do not have that information about the likely amount of money. However, it is a standard provision in section 32 arising from and consequential to Section 31.
I am opposing this section because it is anti-county councillors. We have had experience of changing provisions in other legislation. It is unwise to remove someone who is elected to a local authority from the council or the employment of the authority. This section should be deleted.
I am surprised that section 39 is opposed. It is a well established principle that members of the executive boards of State bodies and their employees cannot be members of local authorities. At present, this applies to the Custom House Docks Development Authority under the Urban Renewal Act, 1986, the National Roads Authority under the Roads Act, 1993, and the Environmental Protection Agency. I ask Senator Daly not to oppose this section on that basis.
I support Senator Daly. This is new legislation so I am not concerned about previous Acts. Many Members of this House are elected by county councillors so we should support them. Over the years many Bills were anti-county councillors. The Minister of State at the Department of the Marine, Deputy Gilmore, acknowledged this when we discussed the Harbours Act, 1995. I was one of the first people to be removed from a board in 1980 when I was a member of BIM. Senator Wright was also affected. Whatever about removing Senators, Deputies and members of the European Parliament from boards, county councillors should be left on them. Perhaps the Minister could reconsider this issue. We reserve the right to table an amendment on Report Stage.
I also support Senator Daly. This practice has been followed by successive Governments. It seems to be the mark of Cain if someone gets elected to a local authority or is prepared to serve their local communities at a cost to themselves. We are tied into this, but all parties in the House should try to change it because we have contributed to it.
We allowed it to slip through.
We should attempt to change it.
I move amendment No. 45:
In page 34, between lines 45 and 46, to insert the following new subsection:
"(3) The Chairperson, ordinary members of the Council, ordinary directors and all persons employed by the Authority shall comply with freedom of information legislation.".
We recently debated the Freedom of Information Bill. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that the people involved comply with this legislation.
That Bill is not yet law. The chairman, members, directors and anyone employed by the authority will be obliged under that legislation to act in accordance with the law. There will be no exemptions.
I move amendment No. 47:
In page 35, subsection (1), line 14, to delete "June" and substitute "April".
I see no reason the authority should be given six months to submit its report and accounts. Most companies quoted on the stock exchange do this in three months or less. Stock exchange regulations ensure prompt publication because out of date news about any organisation is worse than useless. I spoke earlier about what happened to RTÉ last year. It would be better to make a report not later than the end of April, not June.
I am also concerned about the wording of section 45, which states:
The Authority shall, not later than the 30th day of June in each year, make a report to the Minister of its proceedings during the preceding year, and the Minister shall cause copies of the report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.
It does not say when the Minister will be obliged to do this. I hope it will be as soon as possible. I am being generous in suggesting four months when three months would be enough. Six months is too leisurely because it sends the wrong signal to the future management of the authority. I urge the Minister to accept this amendment and to publish the report within a certain period of time.
The old Custom House Docks Authority, which will be subsumed into the new body, had to submit its report by 30 September the following year. We are making progress in the right direction by bringing it back to June. I sympathise with the Senator's point. The report must be laid before the House immediately it is available. That is included in the rules of the House.
I accept the Minister's point, although we should try to bring it back to April. What happened in RTÉ last year was that the board handed it to the Minister, who sat on it for six months. I gather from what the Minister said that this is different legislation.
Amendment No. 49 is out of order as it involves a potential charge on the Revenue.
As it is now 10 p.m. I ask Senator Magner to report progress.
I move: "That the Order of Business be amended to extend by five minutes the time allocated for Committee Stage of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Bill."
I submitted a sketch to the Minister of State showing the areas of Seán McDermott Street, Portland Street and Gardiner Street which should be included in the Dublin docklands area. There should not be an imaginary line dividing local communities. I hope the Minister of State will examine my proposal before final consideration of the Bill.
I appreciate the validity of the Senator's argument. I also wish to scotch the rumour that the Senator is standing for election in Dublin Central.
When is it proposed to take Report Stage?
Tomorrow, subject to agreement between the Whips.
When is it proposed to sit again?
At 10.30 tomorrow morning.